Stop the secret nuclear deal

In 2014, Russia’s state-owned nuclear corporation announced that it had signed a nuclear procurement agreement with South Africa. This came as a shock to many citizens, since the deal did not pass through proper parliamentary channels and there had been no space for participation from the public on the deal.


SAFCEI and Earthlife Africa Johannesburg believed that there was a deliberate manipulation of government decision-making processes. So in October, 2015, they took the matter to court.


On 26 April 2017, after a campaign inside the courtroom and in the public arena, with public meetings and workshops, protests and marches, the Western Cape High Court found that the nuclear deal and the various associated energy procurement processes, were both illegal and unconstitutional.

Why SAFCEI and ELA-JHB took government to court

  • Because the R1-trillion nuclear deal would have tied the country into unnecessary debt well into the foreseeable future.
  • To stop further government corruption and poor decisions in the energy sector, and to hold the Executive accountable for its decisions.
  • To promote energy justice and civil participation, since citizens were excluded from having a say in decisions which will affect them in future.
  • Because South Africa’s energy policy is outdated and must be interrogated and participatively updated.
  • Because progress in renewable energy technology has sped up and costs have dropped significantly, so we should be investing in renewable energy instead.
  • Because evidence has shown that nuclear energy is NOT clean, NOT affordable and NOT sustainable.

The court case could not have been won without the collective effort of our civil society and NGO partners, and also the many individual citizens who took up the cause.

Stop the Secret Nuke Deal


  • 22 Sept 2014

    Russia’s Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation says it will provide up to eight nuclear reactors to South Africa by 2023

  • 23 Oct 2014

    SAFCEI holds their first weekly #NukeVigil outside Parliament (Wednesdays 7.30-9am)

  • Nov 2014

    SAFCEI subs a number of PAIA applications to government departments regarding the nuclear framework agreements, departments including Treasury and the Department of Energy. For example, SAFCEI asked Treasury for all “Records reflecting decisions taken related to the financial obligations and the economic impact of the decisions reflected in intergovernmental agreements..Read More

  • 10 Feb 2015

    SAFCEI appoints legal counsel to write to the Ministers of Finance, Public Enterprises and Energy to ask for confirmation that any nuclear procurement would comply with due process. Side note: In 2014, a minimum of 191 service delivery protests were recorded around South Africa. Shouldn’t satisfying basic needs come first..Read More

  • 4 May 2015

    Minister of Energy announces in budget vote speech that South Africa will launch its nuclear power procurement process at end of July and select a strategic partner or partners by the end of the financial year.

  • 15 Oct 2015

    PRESS Briefing: SAFCEI & ELA announce that they are going to court in a bid to challenge government’s plan to procure 9600 MW of nuclear reactors

  • Jan 2016

    Despite omitting nuclear from South Africa’s energy mix in the NDC, government is still going ahead with it. Read more

  • 2 Mar 2016

    It is revealed that government tried to undermine SAFCEI/ELA court case by gazetting a 2013 nuclear section 34 determination in December 2015. Read more In 2016, Eskom submitted a site licence application. The National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) received a site licence from Eskom to construct the nuclear power plants in..Read More

  • 30 Mar 2016

    It is revealed that the Minister of Energy ignored the state legal adviser’s advice that the Russian agreement should be tabled under section 231.2 of the constitution. The minister instead tabled it in terms of section 231.3, thereby sidestepping the public participation that would have been required during the process..Read More

  • 6 April 2016

    The Minister of Energy announces a delay in the request for proposals for nuclear. Read more 

  • June 2016

    Government finally responds with replying affidavit after missing three deadlines. Read more

  • 7 September 2016

    he Minister of Energy announces that the DoE will put out requests for proposals on a nuclear procurement process on September 30 In 2016, Joemat-Pettersen released a draft IRP for comment. The comment period closed in February 2017. Why then did this Minister issue a section 34 determination, a decision..Read More

  • 15 Sep 2016

    SAFCEI and ELA file the final replying affidavit. Read more

  • 22 Sep 2016

    A court date is set for the hearing of SAFCEI and ELA’s application on the nuclear procurement process for the 13 & 14 December

  • 28-29 November 2016

    People’s Speak Out on Nuclear in Cape Town. Read more

  • 7 December 2016

    In 2016, Joemat-Pettersen released a draft IRP for comment. The comment period closed in February 2017. Why then did this Minister issue a section 34 determination, a decision to procure nuclear energy, in December 2016. “The only reasonable inference is that the Minister deliberately and irrationally, sought to avoid any..Read More

  • 13 Dec 2016

    First court hearing took place but was postponed to 22-24 February, due to the government revealing another secret determination making Eskom the procuring agent for nuclear. Read more

  • 24 Jan 2017

    Civil society organisations join hands to form the Stop Secret Nuke Deal campaign.

  • 9 Feb 2017

    The Stop Secret Nuke Deal campaign occupies bridges in Cape Town, Pretoria and Johannesburg in the lead-up to the State of the Nation Address (SONA), protesting the Secret Trillion Rand Deal

  • 22 Feb 2017

    Second court hearing and civil society march from Parliament to the Cape High Court

  • 22 Feb 2017 (2)

    The Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, Revd Thabo Makgopa appeals to government to scrap the nuclear deal and expand their renewable energy plans.

  • 30 Mar 2017

    Pravin Gordhan is axed as Finance Minister in a midnight cabinet reshuffle by President Jacob Zuma.

  • 26 Apr 2017

    The nuclear deal is blocked in the Western Cape High Court

  • January 2018

    ELA and SAFCEI supplementary Affidavit

  • February 2018

    Although the Minister of Energy has changed (Minister Radebe replaced Minister Mahloba in President Ramaphosa’s cabinet reshuffle in February 2018), DoE officials and civil servants who were complicit with the previous administration remain. Minister Radebe has not used this opportunity to root out unethical and corrupt official, and the same..Read More


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